Minnie & Papa’s House

Today ends a year-long journey and begins a new one for our family. It is a gift from God that we have prayed earnestly for. We have been blessed with countless prayer partners who have been on this journey with us – too many to name. You know who you are if you have been praying with us about our situation. Just to recount, here’s our story…

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When Tony and I answered the call to become full time missionaries in Haiti, our boys were fifteen and twenty. Jonathan was about to enter college, and Jacob was about to be a junior in high school. The night we shared our call with them, they didn’t seem shocked. They didn’t question God. They didn’t complain. They simply asked, “Cool, when do we go?” Jonathan and Jacob have always trusted God’s call on our lives and have patiently and faithfully walked with us as a family the whole way. They have blessed our hearts as they have trusted the Lord’s guidance for our family every step of the way. It has not been easy for either of them. We were and still are a close-knit family. We always did so many fun things together. We moved to Haiti together. Jonathan began moving our things here the day before we arrived, and Jacob moved with us on August 2nd, 2012. After that, Jonathan returned to college, and after a few months, we decided that I (Mickie) would take Jacob back to finish high school.

 

When Jacob and I returned to the states, we had nowhere to live because we had sold our house. Over the course of the next two years, Jacob and I lived out of boxes and suitcases. We would stay in mission houses when we could; we stayed on a houseboat twice, a cabin in the woods twice, and several guest rooms and guest houses of generous friends who let us stay for a while. We moved approximately 20 times in 24 months. Jacob never complained. He and I just prayed for God to provide, and when the time came to move, he helped me pack up and we moved. It was really hard, but we trusted in God and he would always provide.

Jacob eventually graduated high school, went to college, joined the Army National Guard, and kept moving to wherever God provided housing. After almost 5 years of moving over and over again, Jacob finally shared with us that he had become weary. He had lost so many things moving around and was tired of storing all of his belongings in a mini-storage. He had grown weary of not having a home. We thought we could make Haiti “home” for him, but he couldn’t just come here and visit on the weekend or take off time from work or school whenever he wanted to come home. He was always a guest in someone else’s place, and he felt alone. Our hearts broke for him and his situation, but we struggled with what to do about it. We began to pray about the possibility of buying a house in the states, but we were not sure if we could justify using our support funds to pay for a house we only lived in “sometimes.” ….but we desperately wanted a place that Jacob could call home, a constant place where we could stay when we were in the states, a place our grandson, Emerson, could come to recognize as Minnie & Papa’s house, and where we would enjoy making memories with all of our family when we were visiting. So we prayed….

In February, 2017, I was invited to attend the Briarwood Presbyterian Missions Conference. While there, God led me to seek counsel with a Christian counselor who was a former missionary. He offered his services for free to the missionaries there at the conference. After sharing my heart with him and using ALL of his kleenex, he proceeded to explain to me that it is okay to want to provide for our family in this way. I told him that I felt like the people who support us send support to help us do what we do in HAITI, not provide housing in the US. We just didn’t feel like we could seek support for that. He explained that the people God leads to support us want us to be all in and completely focused on our mission and free, emotionally and spiritually, to minister to the people God called us to minister to. If we are so torn by family needs, we can’t fully focus on the ministry God called us to. He said it’s natural to want to provide for your family and you should! He said, “Mickie, as much as you love Haiti and the people of Haiti, Haiti will never be your home. You are American. Your family is in America. You return to America to seek rest and reunion with your loved ones….and that’s okay! It doesn’t mean you aren’t ‘all-in’ or completely committed to God’s call. I think you have proven that very well. You still must care for and provide for your family.” I cannot tell you how relieved I was to hear these wise words. My heart just melted and my body wanted to collapse in relief to hear that our desire wasn’t a selfish desire. I went straight out and called Jacob, and we cried on the phone for an hour. This mama’s heart was filled, and as I shared the experience over the phone with Tony, we prayed together that God would provide and lead us to the right house. We would be patient and look.

Three weeks later, another church asked me to come speak to their church during their missions emphasis week. Before I went before the church, their pastor explained to me that their church already knew about BGM, and they already knew about Hope Center. They wanted to hear about our PERSONAL needs. My heart convulsed in fear. Could I REALLY share our very personal need for a house with this church? I told the pastor about what we were praying for and he said, “That’s EXACTLY what I want you to tell us about.” I trembled at the thought. I had no doubt that I would pour tears as I spoke the words publicly for the first time. The church listened to our story, comforted me in my brokenness, and blessed us with a financial gift that would allow us to take the first step towards purchasing a house. This was clear confirmation from God that HE was in this, and HE would provide.

Over the course of the next year, Tony & I began looking at houses online. Jacob would help us look too. We searched Zillow and Houses.com and other sites. When we were in the states, we would go look at houses on our list and take notes. We made offers on two houses, but the doors closed, so we kept looking. Finally, one year after God began to grow the idea in our hearts for a house, He led Tony and me to this house in Florence, MS.

On the day we went to look at it, we had Emerson with us. As soon as he got out of the car, he ran to the play set and began to play. When we went inside, he ran and played as if he were right at home. He loved it, and so did we. We were only there about 30 minutes. We didn’t test anything out or inspect anything closely. It just felt right, so we began the process of making an offer. After we made the offer, we discovered one glitch. FEMA had made an incorrect flood zone ruling on the property that would require us to get flood insurance temporarily until the ruling could be reversed. There would be no way to know how long that would take. This would increase our house payment by $200 per month which was way more than we needed to pay. So we prayed, “God please push FEMA to reverse the ruling soon!” We prayed and waited and moved forward in faith with the closing process.

We knew we would be returning to the US in March for deployment meetings for Jacob, so we tried to push for closing on the house during the same visit to the US. We would be in the US for ten days, and the first closing date we set was for March 13th. On the morning of the 13th, we rented a moving truck to go to Hattiesburg to get all of our furniture out of the house that we had rented for Jacob while going to USM last semester. They had allowed us to keep his furniture there until we found a house. Some sweet friends from FBC Madison joined us and we loaded everything up. As we were putting the last things onto the truck, I received a call from the mortgage company. They were having difficulty establishing our proof of residency for an FHA loan because we spend so much time in Haiti. We headed on to Florence, but it was looking like we would not close that afternoon. We drove up to the house, parked the truck in the driveway, and met with the selling agent and our buyers agent to figure out what to do. The seller’s agent called the seller and explained the situation and they agreed to let us go ahead and move all of our belongings into the house even though we would not be closing that afternoon. Wow – BUT GOD!

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Over the course of the next week, we got settled into the house and immediately began making memories in a house that did not belong to us, but we IN FAITH claimed as the house God led us to, and by grace the owners believed with us. We ran into hurdle after hurdle that delayed closing time and time again. It was so stressful, but we realized that God was not CLOSING the door; He was simply DELAYING it. The enemy tried to discourage us with these hurdles, but we held onto our faith that this was God’s plan. One evening we were talking with some friends and I said, “Wouldn’t it be something if God was allowing closing to delay so that the FEMA ruling would have time to come in?” Sure enough, about a week later, the FEMA ruling was reversed and closing was moving right along smoothly!!

Tony and I both had to return to Haiti to host a team, so we asked our missions pastor, Scott Ross, to be our Power of Attorney and sign papers for us at closing. He graciously agreed, and yesterday, on Good Friday, we met via FaceTime with the sellers, our agents, closing attorney, and Scott, and we closed on the house! We’ve already made some precious, precious memories with our children and grand baby there and we look forward to many more made in the future. God has blessed us in such a special way by sending us so many prayer warriors all over the world who have prayed with us over this. He has raised up support to help us be able to afford to make the payments and pay utilities. He has provided friends who will watch over it while we are gone and who will even help us with some needed upgrades and minor “fixes” that are needed. He has provided furniture and many other things needed to make this house a home. God has provided every single need and for this we are shouting His praises from the mountaintops!! …..Literally. From the mountains of Haiti to the quiet community of Florence, MS, we are praising God for his provision and grace, patience, and strength to get us to this point in our journey. No more searching for a place to stay when we visit our family. No more wondering where our son will live. No more digging in the mini-storage for clothes to wear or hunting gear during hunting season.

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Tony and I on FaceTime at closing

Of course, we didn’t have time to move everything out of mini-storage before we left for Haiti, but we are looking forward to the day that we can close that door one last time and know that what little we did keep when we moved to Haiti has its place in our new home. Now we can be “home” no matter where HOME is – whether is Hope Center in Haiti, or Minnie & Papa’s house in Florence.

Thank you Jesus!! And thank you to every single person God has placed on this journey with us! May God bless you for your faithfulness as He has used so many of you to bless us in so many ways. We are overwhelmed…..

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West Family in Haiti January 2018 Newsletter

Tony and I are back at Hope Center in Galette Chambon, Haiti, and we are excited about all of the amazing things that we know God is going to do in our midst in 2018. Before we left the states, I prepared a new newsletter touching on some highlights of 2017 at Hope Center as well as in our family. Thank you so much for your prayers and support! We are honored to be able to partner with you in spreading the Love of Jesus Christ to the “uttermost part of the earth” that we have been called to. You bless us in more ways than you can possibly know. Click the link below to open the newsletter. God bless you!! ~Mickie & Tony West

NEWSLETTER JAN 2018

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One Hundred Pairs of Flip Flops

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Before I begin this post, I want to make clear that I am not writing this post to be passive aggressive. I am not responding to any one person in particular or have any one group or person in mind. I did recently reply to an email that inspired this post, however. My email reply addressed the topic of this post in a loving and gentle way, and as I continued to think about it, I decided that this was a topic worth writing about for others to consider as well. I appreciated VERY much the person who wrote to us to ask if it was a good idea before moving forward with it, and because of her question, I was inspired to address it publicly from the perspective of a missionary.

I’ll begin with my own short-term mission experience about three years before I became a long-term missionary myself. We were preparing to go on our first mission trip as a family. We were going to Brazil, and we were going during the same week that Brazil would be playing the USA in the World Cup! What a time to go to Brazil, right? Our younger son was an avid soccer player, and he asked me if he could take some soccer balls to give out to people. My reply at the time was, “Well I don’t know why not!” This mama’s heart was thinking, “Oh how precious that my young son wants to minister to other kids in this way!” I was so proud. So we contacted Eurosport and they agreed to donate 30 soccer balls! I emailed the team leader and informed him that one of our suitcases we would be bringing would be FULL of soccer balls to give out to the kids in Brazil. Looking back through hind-sight, I know now what must have been going through his mind. “Oh boy. How do I tell this proud mother this is not a good idea?” So he gently agreed (since the balls were already acquired and packed) and said we would talk about the “best way to share them” after we got there.

So the day arrived when we all went to Brazil and unpacked our things. We were so eager to see the children’s’ smiling faces when we placed a soccer ball in their hands. We began writing “Jesus Saves” in Portuguese on every ball. While we were writing, the team leader came and sat with us and began his gentle message like this: “Now we are going to need to be very careful how we handle this. We don’t want to get any child in trouble or cause harm. I need you to trust me and let me show you the best thing to do with these balls. We will NOT be distributing them to all the children.” Then he explained the reason why and informed us that we would give five balls to an orphanage, five to a men’s prison we would visit, five to a church/school, five to a local soccer team, five to the local mission we were supporting, and then he would let us keep aside the last five to give to someone in particular secretly. Hmmmm…. that’s not really what we had in mind, but we had agreed to be flexible and trust our leader. Throughout the week, our boys would play soccer in the dirt with local kids and use one of the five balls that was left. By the end of the day, the ball was busted and it would get left for someone to pick up. At the end of the week, we had one ball left, and we decided to give it to a little boy who had worked hard to help us all week. We put it in a bag to conceal it and we gave the bag to a translator to give to him in private. I remember the feeling I had when he left there with his ball. Fear came over me, and all I could think about was the danger I may have put him in by giving him a ball. It was a little disappointing and non-ceremonial for what we would have preferred, but still, we trusted our leader and prayed he made it home safely. We found out later that he did make it home, but he would not play with it because he was afraid someone would be jealous or try to fight him for it. My heart broke for him. Somehow giving away a soccer ball did not feel like I was expecting it to feel. I’ve never forgotten that feeling.

Now fast forward seven years. We have been missionaries in Haiti for five years now. The tables have turned, and now we understand exactly what our leader in Brazil was saying when he said to trust him to know the best way to give the soccer balls. The first year we were here, we didn’t know any better, and we agreed to let a team bring 65 soccer balls to give out to children at VBS. When the day came to distribute them, we had massive chaos. HUNDREDS of people had gathered outside our gate because they heard we were giving away soccer balls. By the afternoon, children were getting jerked and trampled and shoved against the gate as people jockeyed for an opportunity to get a ball. The team was shocked and devastated that what they had looked forward to for so long had turned into massive, dangerous chaos. Many of the team members sat down and cried as little children in VBS were getting jumped by bigger kids that would take their soccer ball and run with it. We decided right then and there that Hope Center WOULD NOT be a place that would come to be known as a distribution center. We would never, ever encourage massive, unorganized distribution of anything. When teams would bring things to be given to people in our village, we would take them gratefully and explain that they would eventually be given to someone, but not all at one time.

Since then, my living room has become a “suitcase graveyard” of bags full of things to be given away. We have suitcases full of clothes; suitcases full of toys; suitcases full of shoes; suitcases full of hygiene products. You name it, we’ve got it in a suitcase in our living room. Sometimes we will have someone come in and say, “Why do you keep all of this stuff in your house when there are people in the village that need it!?” My answer is always the same, “Oh people will get it eventually, but they will get it when God shows us the need and not by distributing it to people all at one time.” We try to explain to teams when they come in that although we know they came here with a giving heart prepared to bless as many people as possible, sometimes we all have to let go of the need to be the one giving things and just know and trust that God will show us when there is a need to be met. We try to explain that distributing “stuff” just isn’t what our mission is all about. Our mission is about Jesus. Our mission is about loving on people, building relationships, praying with people, and meeting needs both materially and spiritually as God leads us. If all we do is distribute things from week to week, the mission becomes more about giving “stuff” and not about giving Jesus. It’s not sustainable. It’s not healthy. It’s not what God put us here to do.

So when someone asks me if they can bring or send 100 pairs of flip flops, my heart just fills up with dread because I don’t want to come across as uncaring or unappreciative or rude. I love a giving heart in a person who wants to know how they can best serve the people in our village. I love it when I am given an opportunity to share with people what I once did not understand before I became a missionary myself….but I do dread the possibility of being misunderstood.

Besides the fact that the terrain and climate in our little Haitian village is not conducive to the thin, rubber flip flops, and they will disintegrate and fall apart in a week, it just isn’t wise to pass them out like candy in a large group setting. What happens is, word gets out quickly that “the blans” are giving out sandals, then people come running from all directions to receive the free gift that the Americans are giving out. Little children, who were in the front of the line, suddenly begin to get shoved to the back of the line, or worse yet to the ground. Hands become stretched out over the sea of people, reaching for the next pair to come hovering out over the crowd. Someone will grab the pair, but another bigger person will snatch it out of their hands and run with it. People get angry and start yelling. Children start crying because their sandals got jerked out of their hands, and they ended up with nothing. Then suddenly, the  “blans” pack up their empty suitcase, get on the bus, and leave the area, and not one word of Jesus has been shared. All that is left is crying children sitting in the dust left from a bus full of people who are already sharing their photos and stories with one another about what a great experience it was to give something to children “who have nothing.” I’ve seen the scenario over and over again, and it breaks my heart more and more every time I see it.

So perhaps you are asking why I felt it was necessary to write this post after going so long without writing. Well, I just felt led. We’ve recently had people question why we hang onto stuff instead of immediately giving it away. We’ve even had people get angry with us when we told them we didn’t need to distribute things that they brought in large quantities. What they didn’t know is that just last week, we filled six giant suitcases full of clothes, shoes, and toiletries and gave the suitcases to six local pastors to take to their churches and give to their members. They were thrilled and very appreciative that they could give some things to their people who need things – not the “blans” but the pastors.

The precious lady who emailed me asking if she could bring 100 pairs of flip flops had beautiful intentions. She wants to give of her own resources to help people in our village. I get that, and I am thankful. I am also very thankful that she was understanding and gracious when I suggested she take the same money she would have spent on flip flops and contribute it to buy Medika Mamba for our malnourished patients; or to buy recyclable grocery bags to make sponsor gifts to give to children when they come to get measured for their sponsor update; or to buy medicine to replenish supplies in our clinic…. Of course, I realize that it isn’t as much fun to contribute to causes such as these as it is to give out flip flops and have pictures posted with a big “thanks for sending flip flops!” in the caption, but if you really want your contribution to have the greatest impact, you will trust us and follow our lead. We don’t mean to steal your thunder. We just want to serve our Lord and bless our people in the most practical and loving way we possibly can. We want to make an impact and not create chaos. We want to share Jesus and not “stuff.” We want to be led by God. We want teams to join us in that.

That’s what’s on my heart today. Thank you for your prayers and your support. We appreciate you more than you can possibly know.

Blessings!!

Mickie and Tony West

 

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We Stand Amazed!

When I was 20 years old, Tony and I were newly weds, taking turns finishing school, and struggling to make ends meet on my meager income of $465 per month. Our rent was over half of that, we had a car note, medical bills, school loans, etc. and yet every month, God provided in miraculous ways for us to make a little extra to make ends meet. I didn’t realize way back then that God was preparing us to live completely dependent on His provision in the years to come….but I do now.

Five years ago, when we quit our “salaried jobs” and surrendered to a call to become missionaries to Haiti, we also surrendered our “control” over provision for our family. We have since then been completely dependent upon God to move others to contribute to our ministry so that we can have income to take care of our family as well as do the work He called us to do in Haiti. We have never had to worry over those five years whether or not we could make ends meet. He has ALWAYS provided for our every need. It is a daily miracle that we walk in, and there are so many times when we don’t know whether to laugh like Abraham and Sarah or fall on our knees and cry like King David, but we do always shout His praises when He moves in so many mighty ways. Many of you follow our ministry and shout along with us, and we feel so blessed to have so many people rejoicing with us.

Recently I posted a plea for prayer over our housing situation over the coming months. Many of you know, but I will share a little back story here so you can better understand. When Tony and I moved to Haiti 4 and a half years ago, our older son (Jonathan) stayed in the US to finish college and go on to marry, and our younger son (Jacob) returned to the US to finish high school and go on to college. For those first two years, I lived mostly in the US with Jacob, returning frequently to Haiti to serve as often as I could. Because we had sold our house in the US, Jacob and I moved from place to place wherever we could find someone generous enough to allow us to stay for a little while. Over those 22 months, we moved 20 times. It was not easy, but neither of us complained because God was making a way and providing all along. After he graduated, Jacob went on to college, but he still had no “home” other than our house in Haiti. When not in school, he still moved several times as was necessary, misplacing countless items and gradually ending up with things stored in no less than four locations. Every time Tony and I would return to the states and stay in a mission house, Jacob would breathe a sigh of relief to be able to move his things to where we were and live with us for a few weeks instead of as someone else’s house guest. It has been difficult, but God has always provided and we have been grateful.

Each year, Tony and I return to the US for a holiday break from mid-December to mid-January. Jacob always stays with us during that time and we soak up as much family time as we can over those weeks! This year is a little different, however, in that Tony is having to stay longer because he is in an online Nurse Practitioner program and he is required to get so many clinical hours for school. He will graduate in May, but he has many requirements that will make it necessary to return to the US often over the next six months. Jacob is working and taking online classes too until he can return to school full time in the fall. The two of them were needing somewhere that they could stay over the next six months.  We began to pray and seek. Although I am sometimes proud and hard headed, God has taught me over the years to be specific in my prayers, depend on Him for miracles, and to make our needs known, and He reminded me through His word over the last few weeks. In Matthew 6:11 He says that when we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” we ask God to provide daily for our needs. His word also says, “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). So when we have a need, we can also have a specific desire in our heart as well.  Don’t be afraid to ask! We should never place restrictions and limits on our God and think our request is impossible to fulfill because Matthew 19:26 says, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” Then the Holy Spirit just this week taught me something new about the verse James 2: 26 where it says, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” We usually interpret this to mean that we show our faith by the works we do in His name. It also means, however, that we should never say, “I have faith that this mountain will move” and then sit there and stare at the mountain. There’s work involved in seeing miracles happen. WE don’t make them happen, God does, but we are actively involved in carrying them out…that’s faith! Wow! I’ve never thought of it that way! I didn’t need to just pray, “Lord provide a safe, more permanent place for Jacob and Tony (and occasionally me) to stay over the next 6 months” then sit and wait. I needed to make our needs known, ask for prayer, then look around, check into things, ask people, seek it out! KNOW that He will provide!

Many, many people have graciously offered for us to stay in their homes, guest houses, rental houses, hunting cabins, etc. over the last few weeks. It absolutely BLOWS US AWAY that so many people are so generous and genuinely concerned for our well-being. It is humbling and overwhelming and we are grateful. As we have considered and prayed about each and every location, I just kept hanging on, asking God to provide a safe, conveniently located, spacious and private place so that the guys could stay in one place for the whole 6 months, be fairly close to work and school, feel safe and secure, have enough space for their “stuff” and yet at the same time have all of these things but not cost us a lot of out of pocket expense at this time. Ya think that was too much to ask? I kept being tempted to think so myself, but then God kept reminding me that He wants those things for us too, so we held out in faith….

Two days ago – just two days before I am to return to Haiti – God showed out! He provided a place that is all of the above with the exception of the last thing….we would have to pay rent. The rent wasn’t an unreasonable amount by any means, but it would definitely make our budget have to stretch considerably. We decided to go ahead and accept it in faith that God would provide. Provide he DID!!! Not only did He provide the place, but in that same day He provided the funds!! God used a precious, precious friend to bless us with the entire six month’s rent! Oh my goodness, my heart is jumping out of my chest RIGHT NOW! Praise His Mighty Name!! JESUS!!!

Tomorrow I will return to Haiti and jump right into a whirlwind of exciting things God is about to do in our village. We live in a world of daily miracles and I laugh in amazement of His works and blessings!! Next week, Tony and Jacob will pack up and move out of one mission house and into the new location, and God will continue to “meet all [our] needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19, and we will continue to stand amazed!!

Thank you to all who so faithfully pray and give and support and participate in our ministry to the people of Galette Chambon, Haiti, making His named known throughout our village and surrounding villages there. His name is GREAT!!!

God bless!!

Mickie

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Newsletter – Fall 2016

Well hello strangers! Oh wait, I’m the stranger! I realize that I have not blogged in what seems like an ETERNITY, but I am really going to try to do better in the coming months. I post on social medial all the time because it’s just easier and reaches literally thousands, but I am really trying to pay more attention to my blog as well. I’ll start today by posting our latest newsletter. I sent the newsletter out recently to about 150 people who have supported us in some way over the last year. We realize, however that there are many, many more who support us in prayer, but I don’t have those addresses, and besides, we would spend a fortune on postage….so here we go! I hope you enjoy the newsletter! And I hope to be updating you all much more frequently over the coming months. Pray that God will hold me to this task! Thanks!! …..and God bless you all!!! We appreciate your love and prayers so very much!!  ~Tony and Mickie

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God Listens to Our Cries for Help

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I am so sorry it has taken me so long to update everyone, but I have been trying to find out something substantial. Today we received an answer to prayer. Perhaps not what we wanted originally, but it blessed my heart just the same knowing what I know now. After many doctors in both the US and Haiti looked at Muraelle’s latest CT scan and other records, it was pretty much definitive that he could only receive palliative care at this point. We even had a US ophthalmologist look at him here at Hope Center and he confirmed that other than removing the eye for comfort, there was nothing else that could be done. The tumor has entered his cranium and the eye is completely gone. More than likely it has metastasized into other places as well. The process for getting a medical visa is not an easy one and takes time and cooperation from doctors who are knowledgable about the case. We have neither time on our side nor cooperation.

We were having trouble getting cooperation from the doctor who first treated him back in April because she was so angry with the parents for neglecting to return with him when he had an appointment for further treatment. We tried to get his medical records so US doctors would have a better understanding of what had already been done, but all we were given was a brief report. In the meantime, Muraelle has been getting worse and worse. He has been refusing to take his medicines and has been vomiting and in great pain. Two weeks ago, I taught the parents how to trick him into taking his medicine by putting it in juice and giving it to him in a sippy cup. Now, his senses are so heightened that he tastes the medicine in the juice and will not take it. Our friend Debi says the vomiting is perhaps because of increasing intracranial pressure due to enlarging tumor mass. The consensus is that little Muraelle will probably not live much longer and he desperately needs inpatient palliative care.

I went to talk with the doctor personally last week and what started out rather confrontational, eventually worked around to a pleasant and agreeable conversation. She informed us that she had given Muraelle an appointment to come in two weeks. I wrote that on my calendar and today we sent him with his uncle to the hospital for his appointment. At first he texted me and said they refused to take him. I decided to get on my computer and find every name I could find associated with that hospital and BEG them to take him in. In the meantime, I wrote to Real Hope for Haiti (the place where we took the two malnourished boys a couple of weeks ago) and asked if they might be able to take him if the hospital still refused. Tonight I received a text from his uncle saying, “Praise God, the hospital finally took him in!” He is now safely resting in the hospital on IV antibiotics and pain meds and if they can locate a doctor to remove the eye for palliative care, they will do so. I also received word from Real Hope for Haiti saying that if the hospital discharges him again, let them know, and they will take him and take care of him until the end.

Psalm 22:24 says, “For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” We know that God has heard our cry and He is moving. We will simply continue to trust in Him. My last post said that God was opening doors for Muraelle, and today He once again opened a door to get him admitted into the hospital. Soon he will part the great doors of Heaven for this sweet boy, and there will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more sippy cups with yucky medicine in them….only the comforting arms of Jesus. That indeed is an answer to prayer. Again, this is not how I wanted it to all work out, but I know that our Father is waiting with open arms for little Muraelle, and soon he will be able to see clearly and run straight into our Father’s arms, leaving that pesky face mask behind and smiling with his whole sweet little face.

Keep on praying for the doctors and for Muraelle and for his family. Thank you all so much for your prayers.

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God is Opening Doors for Muraelle

What started as a horrific sight last week, has turned into a journey of faith for the Charles family. They came to our clinic last week desperately seeking help for their child, Muraelle, who suffers from a retinalblastoma.

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The horrific photo I posted last week drew lots of attention, and that was the intent. This boy needed attention FAST, and though I hesitated posting it, I decided that it was worth the risk to get him help. It worked. In a few hours, it had been shared 27 times and I was already receiving emails and messages from all over the United States, from California to Boston to Florida and lots of places in between. On our first day of seeking help, we were turned away from four hospitals and it was devastating.

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Muraelle wouldn’t take his medicines, and hospitals were unwilling to give him what he needed by IV. So we prayed…. We had to resist the temptation to panic and take things into our own hands. We decided to trust God even though advice was coming at us from thousands of different directions. God said, “Be still and know that I am God.” We decided to start fresh this morning with a new plan of action. The Charles family arrived at Hope Center promptly at 7:30 as I had asked and we began working with Muraelle to see how we could get him to take his medicine. We finally found that a sippy cup with grape Pedialyte made him willing to drink his medicine and even ask for more. We celebrated the first dose of antibiotics in his little body and loaded up in the truck. We had heard from someone at Bernard Mevs and found out that although Haiti had a holiday today, the CT lab was open! We arrived at the hospital and there was practically NO ONE in line.

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On an average day, people wait for hours and hours to be seen. All we had to wait for was for someone to come take the money for the scan! In no time we were in the CT truck and trying to figure out how to get this little spit fire to lay still. They decided he needed sedation. He’s a strong little guy! Even with sedation, his father had to hold him down, but we got the scan!!

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Next we headed to St. Damien’s hospital to ask for copies of his medical records. Within about 30 minutes, we had put in the request, paid, and were headed back to the truck. Both the CT results and the chart copies will be ready tomorrow.

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So we returned to Hope Center (after grabbing some YUMMY beans and rice on the street) and the new team from Hattiesburg, MS, was unpacking and preparing for the rest of the week. Within minutes, Tony introduced me to a Dr. Jim Brown….ophthalmologist. Yep! As usual, God provides what we need when we need it…this time WHO we need. Dr. Brown dilated and examined Muraelle’s good eye and said he doesn’t see any spreading of the tumor to the other eye. That’s good news! He did say that his first course of action would be to seek to remove the eye that has the tumor for palliative care. He also said that if he does not get help soon, he could die. I’m sure he thought that what he was telling me sounded grave, but actually I focused on the word “could” and held onto the hope that he COULD live! God is opening doors, and we will continue to walk and sometimes even push through them. We don’t know where we are going with all of this, but one thing is for sure…we are trusting HIM. Please continue to pray for Muraelle. Pray that he continues to take his antibiotics and pain meds. Pray that God leads us to the person who can remove the bad eye. Pray that IF he needs further care in the states, that God will walk us through that process and open more doors. Thank you for your prayers!!!

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Jores – His Journey from Translator to Doctor

One of the most rewarding things we get to witness through our ministry here in Haiti is how so many lives are completely changed because of God’s hand moving through But God Ministries. We watch children grow up being better educated because so many are sponsored in school. We watch ideas turn into businesses that create income for families that once struggled to find one meal a day. We see patients with life-threatening illnesses get the health care they need because once identified, we are able to get them to the hospital or specialist that knows how to help them. We’ve seen thousands in our clinic and almost 200 babies have been brought into the world here. Mothers want to come here to have their babies because they seek the kind of care that Jesus would give, and they know that they will be loved and cared for through His love at Hope Center. We see hundreds of people weekly who finally have hope for their future as God leads us to seek ways to change people’s lives. People tell me all the time that the reason they support But God Ministries is because when they give to BGM, they know that we are using their donation in the way that we say we will use it and they see proof of the lives changed through the pictures we post of what’s going on here. Tony and I love that too. That’s why we are here as missionaries for BGM. We don’t ever want to be a part of an organization that doesn’t do exactly what they say they will do. God is using this organization to sustain a community not just today, but in the future, as we watch His hand move in amazing ways. And he doesn’t just use us, but COUNTLESS others who have come here, built relationships here, sent contributions to help people here, and even contributed to various drives in the states and then sent those goods over knowing that those goods will make it to the hands of the people who need them. It’s a HUGE, amazing miracle, and It’s fantastic to watch it unfold!

This is Jores in one of his classrooms.

This is Jores in one of his classrooms.

One person in our village who’s life changed dramatically two years ago was Jores Merilus. I have written about him before. He started out as a translator at Hope Center with his good friend Moliere. Moliere is now the principal of our But God Ministries Secondary School here in the village and is doing a tremendous job. Jores is now in medical school in Port au Prince studying to become a physician with hopes of returning to his home village to help the people he has known and loved all his life. If you want to read my previous post about his story, click here – Jores’s Story

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

In a nutshell, two years ago a team recognized Jores’s potential in medicine and told him that if he wanted to go to medical school, they would help him. They not only paid for his first year of school, but they helped him get an apartment near the school so he could be close and have a good place to study. Before then he was sleeping in a closet in a warehouse so he could have light at night to study. He had to spend a year taking preparatory classes because it had been so long since he had gone to school, but this past school year, he completed his first year of medical school. He has worked very hard in school and has done a tremendous job! We are so proud of him. He told me a few weeks ago that he has applied for an opportunity to go to Canada next summer to study for a few weeks and he is very hopeful that he will be selected. They only select two from each class to go. I’m praying that God will bless him with that opportunity.

Jores has a gentle spirit and a heart for the mission God has for him. He does not want to be a doctor just to have a job. He wants to be a doctor because that is his mission. He sees it as a ministry, and he looks forward to ministering to his village.

Jores has a gentle spirit and a heart for the mission God has for him. He does not want to be a doctor just to have a job. He wants to be a doctor because that is his mission. He sees it as a ministry, and he looks forward to ministering to his village.

Recently, Jores invited me to go see his school and apartment so I could show people what it all looks like. He toured me around the school and then took me to his apartment to see it. The school is very nice!

The apartment is….humble but functional. He is so grateful that someone was thoughtful enough to be concerned about his living situation and helped him find this apartment. He feels so blessed to be able to go to school and have a place to stay not far from the school. He can actually walk to the school from this apartment. It may not be much, but it sure beats a closet in a warehouse!

I decided to write about Jores today because circumstances with his original sponsors have changed somewhat and they are not able to help him as they did the first year. Because of this, Jores had to ask his mother if she could get a loan to help him pay for last semester of school. She did get a loan from a friend, but it has put a huge strain on her and her family to try to pay it back. She makes and sells charcoal for a living and she barely sells enough to pay for food. She often goes without eating so that she can make a payment on the loan. Jores spent the summer helping her, but now it is time for him to go back to school.

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

Jores in front of one of the buildings in the middle of the campus

Jores came by the house today and spent several hours just talking and visiting. We talked about faith and how the plan for him to go to med school was not his plan, not our plan, not the past donors’ plan; it was (and IS) God’s plan. He smiled when I told him that when God put him in his mom’s belly, He did so knowing about such a time as this. Now he must have faith that when God starts a good work, He will carry it through. Like Jores, Tony and I have walked the road of faith so many times before, and we know that when God has a plan, He provides. We are walking that road even now – just like Jores! So we prayed together and asked God not only to continue to provide a way by moving people to help, but to also increase our faith in His plan and give us peace. It was a good afternoon that ended with a cooling rain, which we decided was God’s blessing on our time together. We are so blessed to know Jores as we do.

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I am telling Jores’s story today because I know that there are people who know and love him and want to help him. There have already been a few people to express interest in helping him, so I know he will be fine. I just wanted to tell his story so that others would know as well in case they want to help him too. If you feel led to help this bright, young man realize his dream of becoming a doctor to help his village, please email me at tnmwest@gmail.com or send me a Facebook inbox message. I can tell you how you can do that.

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I always hesitate to post requests for help like this, but then people are ALWAYS asking me how they can help. They can’t know if I don’t put it out there. I do realize that there are MANY needs and it seems someone always needs help, but I also don’t believe that everyone is called to give to every situation. Some may feel led to give to one call and then others feel led to give to another. God wants to use us all to help in some way though. I pray that if God wants to use you to help Jores, you will hear His call and be blessed in doing so. Thank you for your prayers and support. We are humbled and blessed to be a part of this amazing ministry that helps so many people. God bless!!

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BGM – Galette Chambon – Child Sponsorship is LAUNCHED! Hallelujah!!

It’s finally ready! What an exciting answer to prayer! I have been praying for God to make a way for the children in our village to not only go to school but be able to have a daily meal provided for them for at least two years, and it’s finally happening! Child Sponsorships for the children of Galette Chambon have begun, and the response has already been awesome!

Go to the But God Ministries home page and click How to Get Involved

Go to the But God Ministries home page and click How to Get Involved

It started two years ago when I applied for Feed My Starving Children to admit us into a feeding program through a local distributor. We were denied because we were trying to feed too many children at once, and it would not be sustainable. My heart was broken, but then I also understood. I began praying for God to provide another way. All I wanted was to see children go to school and for them to be fed. In my prayer, I said, “Lord, I know you want us to care for these children and feed them as well. Your Word is FULL of commands to care for the children and the poor, and we have a village full of hungry children. Show us how, and we will run with it.” ….and He did! The folks up in Thoman had already been running a successful child sponsorship program and over 400 children in that village were getting a daily meal at school. Although we had already been sending kids to school in our village, the money we had to send them wasn’t nearly enough to feed all of them. Although they are so thankful that we help them go to school, we knew that empty stomachs meant zero learning. So we began looking into starting the same program in Galette Chambon.

Click on the link to sponsor a child in Galette Chambon

Click on the link to sponsor a child in Galette Chambon

We are starting with 25 children. Twelve are from Pastor Johel’s school and 13 are from Professor Salomon’s school. These are the two schools we have been sponsoring for three years now. As children are sponsored, we will add more to the program. For every sponsorship, you send one child to school, paying for his/her tuition, uniform, books, exams, etc., which is great! However, once we get 50 children sponsored, it gets even better! Once we get 50 sponsored, every sponsorship will feed FOUR children and we can begin buying the rice, beans, oil, etc. to start preparing meals for ALL of the kids to have EVERY day after school. The cost is $37 per month. You are given a choice of using SimpleGive through the BGM website or bank draft. If you use SimpleGive, that host company charges a processing fee which makes it $38.50. Bank draft, I believe, is a flat $37 per month.

Click on the link for each child to read a bit more about him or her. There is a link on each page that you can click to take you to the sponsorship form. The link says

Click on the link for each child to read a bit more about him or her. There is a link on each page that you can click to take you to the sponsorship form. The link says “Click here to sponsor me!”

Throughout this post, I have inserted pictures. These pictures show you how to get to the sponsorship page and how to sponsor a child. Please take some time to go to the But God Ministries page and click the links to meet our children. Or better yet, here’s a link directly to the page: BUT GOD MINISTRIES GC-SPONSORSHIP

As you look at their faces, ask God if He would make a way for you to help one of these go to school.

When God shared His vision with Tony four years ago – the same vision He had given Stan Buckley and others at FBC Jackson – He said to Tony, “What good will it do the people of Haiti for you to take one child out of the country when I want to use you to change a generation?” THESE are the faces of that generation!! These are the children God wants to use to bring revival to a land that has lived in hunger for far too long. The vision has been happening in so many ways over the last three years, but THIS step is one that excites me more than others because this is a huge step towards changing a generation. Thank you for sharing in my excitement over this! Thank you for your prayers for our ministry here! And thank you for each and every way you support what God is doing through But God Ministries.

God Bless You!!

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Child Sponsorships Coming Soon to Galette Chambon!!…EXCITED!

I am so excited to announce that possibly next week, people will have an opportunity to go to the BGM website and sponsor children from our village! Each sponsorship will not only pay all expenses for the child’s school, but once we reach 50 sponsorships in each of the two schools we support, we will be able to start a feeding program that will feed ALL of the kids in the school. In other words, one sponsorship pays one child’s school, but it FEEDS FOUR! EVERY DAY! THIS IS HUGE!!

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For those of you who don’t know, little rural villages like ours are full of bright children willing to learn, but their families struggle to provide food for them much less tuition for school. The average income in our little village is about $400 per year. Their annual tuition is only $25 per year, but they also have to purchase uniforms, books, school supplies, and they pay separately for all exams. It comes up to about a fourth of their annual income! The schools really need more than this to be able to pay their teachers and provide adequate classroom space for the children, but they also have to offer education at a price that more people in the village can afford or no one would go to school! Many of the schools just allow some kids to go to school without paying and their teachers go without being paid often as well. It’s just a very difficult situation.

All of the children gathered outside the school for the pledge and national anthem before school.

All of the children gathered outside the school for the pledge and national anthem before school.

BUT GOD….is making a way to change all of that! We have been doing the child sponsorship program up in Thoman now for a couple of years, and it is working out very well. They now have enough kids being sponsored that they are able to prepare a meal of rice and beans every day and feed every child in the school a good meal before they leave. For most of these kids, this is the only meal they will get all day! However, with a daily meal being served, these kids will not go hungry and they will be able to learn better! Praise the Lord!!

Students waiting for school to start

Students waiting for school to start

James 2:14-18 says, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith BY my works.” THIS is where we experience REAL faith. It is when we say with our mouths that we believe in the power of a living God and then we MOVE in faith to help care for someone in need. If God calls you to do it, He will also make a way for you to be able to do it. You will not only witness the miracle of provision every month, but you will also be able to see it taking place in a child’s life in our village as we post pictures of them throughout the year. You can even come visit them or send pictures or packages to them! It’s more than just a sponsorship program; it’s a relationship of ministry with a child in need. Please pray about it!

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I am going to post a slide show below previewing all of the kids we will post soon. I will also post a link here to the  BGM page so you can check periodically for the sponsorships to go live. We already have a link to Sponsorships in Thoman with pictures of the kids in the program there. However, soon you will be able to sponsor kids in our village of Galette Chambon – many of them you probably even know if you have visited Hope Center! After all 25 of these are sponsored, we will add 25 more. We are trusting that very soon, all 100 kids will be sponsored and we will be ready to start the feeding program!

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